NEA Literature Fellowships

Thorpe Moeckel

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(2011 - Poetry)

from Venison: a poem

                                                      …the body

tells you body that is & not your own fissioning
sleekness lessening, expanding, the way you can tell

the weather by the woodsmoke after it leaves
the stovepipe--sometimes it slides the north pitch

and surfs the downdraft into gravel & the dogs barking,
cilantro in the coldframe: this means freezing rain

tomorrow noon, and the deer, another herd moving
hard tonight in expectation of say there's paw paw

downdrainage no critter's got to the fruit of, fallen
or not, & the sweet bounty is in the air. My job here

is simple--to feed the family, take apart, put together:
later these shoulders cleaned of membrane on the table --

Kirsten, Sophie, & I in a perforato of bladework,
trimming, carving--will be freezered in portions fit

for three, larger bags for company, gifts, trade; smell
of Sharpie labeling date & cut--dwelling, we were

in the dream of deer moving in the geminid shower
through geographies of scent, paths in stickweed,

ravining, crossing the CSX, hoof on gravel, rail,
fox musk in the sinus, crows moonward where

spilt the sun's yolk on shoals, a few geese, otter
in boxelder's skirt, dozing; here are acorns--who

doesn't love acorns, napsize, frizz of cap, bell of them,
the way their red & yellows & browns ray ashimmer,

polished longitudinally on the unroundlessness.
I am standing in the shed. The deer is not a wind chime.

You know I am cutting after the nature of nature;
it is not knowledge but desire for the touch

that constitutes, a bringing into the body, a digestion,
less than sensory, cellular, less even than marrow

or politics of marrow, less at last than prayer. I feel
emptied doing this, as in a place & time where close

doesn't apply. The breath of God feels accurate, not
swimming but being a particle among the particular,

sediment in time's flood, the galactic pulse & trickle.
I am not feeding the family, the family is feeding me...

(Permission courtesy of Etruscan Press)

Thorpe Moeckel is the author of Odd Botany (Silverfish Review Press, 2002), Making a Map of the River (Iris Press, 2008), and Venison: a poem (Etruscan Press, 2010). Chapbooks include Meltlines and The Guessing Land. His work appears widely in journals and anthologies. He earned an MFA in 2002 from University of Virginia, where he was a Henry Hoyns and Jacob Javits Fellow. In 2004-05, he served as the Kenan Visiting Writer at UNC-Chapel Hill. He now teaches at Hollins University and lives near Buchanan, Virginia, where he helps his wife, children, and lots of lovely Nubian dairy goats run a small, Permaculture-based family farm.

Photo by by Emma Lobdell

Author's Statement

An NEA grant is an astounding gift of validation and support. Thank you. My daily writing habits will remain as pell-mell as they ever were, but there will be--already is--more ballast for the journeys. I hope not too much. I plan to keep working on the projects underway. Another long poem is in the works, with shards of it in the woods, the barn, the tool shed, and kitchen. I will take some time off from teaching. I will play more with my family and our animals and garden and buildings. I will read more and subscribe to more literary journals and cook with more pizzazz. And eat! Maybe we will fix the greenhouse, breed a few more sheep and goats. Maybe we will travel some. I have never been to Europe, but somehow with this NEA grant I feel like I am already there, in some Europe of amazement and gratitude. Again, thank you.